Updated HealthCare.gov opens Nov. 1: Here's what to expect

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Open enrollment begins Nov. 1, and this year's shoppers will be using what is reported to be an easier-to-use website to search for coverage options on HealthCare.gov.

The Oct. 1, 2013 launch of HealthCare.gov was a bumpy one, and the federal government has been making changes and updating the site over the past two years to improve the consumer experience.

The Washington Post reports Obama administration officials predict the third open enrollment will be easier to use, being quicker and show more cost prediction information. The report indicates the website will be up to 40 percent faster than a year ago and will also use words that are easier to understand.

Additionally, Kevin Counihan, CEO of the federal marketplace, wrote about new privacy updates to HealthCare.gov in early October. Key among the updates is a new privacy manager, allowing consumers to opt out of third party tools the exchange uses to collect data, such as Google Analytics. The exchange collects such data to analyze the marketplace's technical performance and outreach efforts, among other functions, according to Mr. Counihan.

"If you choose to opt out, you'll still have access to everything on the site, but we won't use information from your visit to analyze the site's technical performance or use digital advertising to remind you about helpful information like deadlines," he wrote.

The administration is also working on a new feature for HealthCare.gov that allows shoppers to search for health plans near them that cover the physicians and prescriptions they already use, though this feature is not yet ready and won't be available come Nov. 1, according to The Washington Post.

HHS officials have collected data from payers on this information, though only about half the data they need, according to the report. When asked when this feature would be ready, Lori Lodes, communications director for CMS, only told The Washington Post, "Coming soon."

Officials also anticipate a few roadblocks during this year's open enrollment due to the changes. "Are we going to have bumps in this open enrollment? You bet," Mr. Counihan said in the report. "Are we going to fix the bumps? You bet."

Thirty-eight states will use HealthCare.gov as the platform for people to buy health insurance.

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